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The Tao of Story: From Dracula to Bodhisattva – Exploring the Myths, Fairy Tales, Legends, and Favorite Stories by Which We Live
April 15, 2000 @ 10:00 am - 3:00 pm PDT
The Saturday workshop grapples with the remaining three narrative crises. First is wandering among stories — after we escape a stuck plot, we must find another to live by, but often do not know how to choose, and so end up drifting indecisively among different tales. The biblical story of Babel and the nursery rhyme about Humpty Dumpty dramatize the relativism and fragmentation of the situation, especially painful at midlife and in our postmodern time. The nine Muses from ancient Greece help here by revealing the logic of stories, which gives us criteria by which we can judge among tales, separating better from worse, true from false. The next narrative quandary is failing a story, and is exemplified by Sisyphus and King Arthur, who both follow specific scripts, but fail to reach their chosen ending. How to transform such failed dramas is the subject of the Buddhist tale, “The Brave Parrot”, and the Jewish story, “The Golden Tree,” which dwell on what might be called the practice and spirit of story. The fourth and perhaps most difficult narrative dilemma is being wounded by a story. The Flying Dutchman, Tristan and Isolde, and the Fisher King illustrate such wounding tales, where a desire or quest can never be attained. Goethe’s “Faust” and a Tibetan story, “The Old Meditator,” reveal an unexpected resolution to this painful plight in what can be turned “attunement” to the “soul of story,” which closely resembles spiritual illumination. Throughout the lecture and workshop various exercises will help us explore the myths, fairy tales, legends and favorite stories we live by, and how we can use them deal with our stuck, lost, failed and wounding life tales.
Related Lecture: The Tao of Story: From Dracula to Bodhisattva
Allan B. Chinen, M.D., is the author of four books and the psychological and spiritual tasks of aging: In the Ever After, Once Upon a Midlife, Beyond the Hero, and Waking the World. Although retired from private practice to focus on writing, he continues to teach as a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, on the voluntary faculty of the School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco. He Is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. Born and raised in Hawaii, he obtained his undergraduate and medical degrees at Stanford University, and completed his psychiatry residency and fellowship at University of California, San Francisco.